“Aquaculture, in particular salmon farming has been my life and passion,” says Ian Roberts, who is departing Mowi after a three-decade career in the seafood sector.

Top aquaculture advocate calls it a day with Mowi

“Aquaculture, in particular salmon farming has been my life and passion,” says Ian Roberts, who is departing Mowi after a three-decade career in the seafood sector.

By Fabian Dawson

Ian Roberts, one of the country’s most prominent advocates for aquaculture has announced his departure from Mowi, as its director of communications for Scotland, Ireland and Canada.

Roberts, who is also the chair of Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance (CAIA), and Mowi, the world’s largest producer of Atlantic salmon, have reached a mutual agreement to end the position effective August 1, 2024, the company said in a statement.

Roberts has been with Mowi since 1993, with positions held in salmon production and communications spanning his 31-year career.

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the various career opportunities that the company has entrusted to me,” said Roberts, who was based in Campbell River on Vancouver Island, before his move to Scotland in 2018, and later to Atlantic Canada.

“From leading the salmon aquaculture partnership with the Kitasoo Xai’xais First Nation in British Columbia during the first half of my career, to directing communications in Canada and Scotland over the past 15 years and having the opportunity to work with fabulously smart and caring people, it has all been very rewarding for me personally.”

In an interview with SeaWestNews, Roberts said “aquaculture, in particular salmon farming has been my life and passion.”

“The people in aquaculture I have worked with have been simply great,” said Roberts, who plans to do some kite-surfing this summer and spend more time with his wife Lori and her two daughters.

“We haven’t decided what comes next yet,” he said.

Ben Hadfield, Mowi’s COO Farming (Scotland, Ireland, the Faroes & Canada East) said Robert’s leadership and confident presence in communications has been a strong asset for Mowi and for the wider salmon farming sector.

“His confident, passionate approach alongside strong respect from communities where salmon is produced has led to trust and a greater understanding of our business. I wish Ian all the best in his future endeavours and hope that he will remain closely involved in the aquaculture sector in some capacity,” said Hadfield.

Brian Kingzett, executive director of the B.C. Salmon Farmers’ Association described Roberts as “one of the most trusted voices in the BC Salmon farming sector and a relentless advocate for doing the right thing.”

“His commitment to the sector has been without parallel.  As one of our early salmon farmers present when the landmark Kitasoo Xai’xais Nation agreement was developed, you can trace a clear path to the agreement and the journey to reconciliation with First Nations across the entire sector back to him. I can’t wait to see what Ian does next,” Kingzett said.

Roberts, joined Mowi, then known as Marine Harvest, after graduating with an Aquaculture Technician degree from the Sir Sandford Fleming College. He also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Media Studies from Royal Roads University.

He started out at a salmon farm in BC’s Discovery Islands as a scuba diver and then moved to Klemtu and worked with the Kitasoo/Xai’xais First Nation to build their salmon farming program before taking on the Communications Manager and Director of Public Affairs roles with Mowi.

During his time in British Columbia, Roberts was instrumental in shaping Mowi’s strategic communications, community initiatives, stakeholder relations, and partnerships with First Nations, including the Kitasoo Xai’xais.

The  Kitasoo Xai’xais whose traditional territories span British Columbia’s central coast in the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest, are aquaculture pioneers in the province and have been farming salmon in partnership with Mowi for almost two decades.

Currently in BC, all existing salmon farms are supported by the First Nations communities that they operate in.

Robert’s departure from Mowi comes at a critical juncture for the aquaculture industry in BC as the Federal government considers renewing salmon farming licences pending the formulation of a Transition Plan for the sector in the province.

(Image shows Ian Roberts at a Mowi Scotland’s Salmon Wagon event – a program he helped create to benefit charities. Photo: Mowi)